Mary Jane Frost (1825-1915)
Mary Jane Frost was born on 05 Feb 1825 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts as the fourth child of Joseph Frost and Caroline Mumford. She had four siblings, namely: Thomas, George, Sarah E. S., and Charles. She grew up in Dorchester.
On the day of their marriage, the couple started a ledger to keep track of their expenses. The book still exists. What a treasure! As they set up housekeeping as a married couple, they had some expenses that would be common today. They bought a bucket and a pot; and a bunch of groceries like coffee, flour, rice, butter, lard, tea, ginger, cloves, mustard, nutmeg, salt, sugar, lemons and beef steak. They also bought items that are not familiar to us in the modern day such as a stove brush, shaving brush, a box of chemical soap, fish-skin, castor-oil and blacking. On this first page of the ledger, we also can see that they had to pay house rent and carfare. And they even bought ice cream. It is interesting see what a couple living in 1857 in the outskirts of Boston had on their shopping list.
The couple even had surf and turf one day… horse and lobster!
Mary Jane’s father died in November 1857, just a few months after Mary Jane and Selam married. By the time of the 1860 Federal Census, Mary Jane’s mother, Caroline Mumford Frost, was living with the couple. Selam Boyce worked as a bakery wagon driver.
Selam’s parents moved from New England to the relative wilds of Illinois. In May 1859, Mary Jane and Selam took a trip to visit them in Illinois. Mary Jane kept a travel journal during the trip. These are her own words!
“May 23, 1859 – Selam Boyce and Lady started from Roxbury, Mass. May 23, 1859 at 1/4 before 5 for the OE&G R.R. depot took the cars for Fall River at 1/2 past 5 arriving at that place 1/4 before 7 – went directly aboard the N.Y. boat, stayed on deck until after the boat stopped at Newport, then took to our Stateroom where Selam slept all night and Mary Jane lay & tossed did not sleep till after one o’clock, but neither one the least bit sick. Got up the next morning at 1/2 past 4 went on deck which at that time had but few persons, it was splendid. Got into N.Y. at 1/2 past 6 went directly to the boat for the Hudson – started at 7 & took the breakfast on board the Metamora – The scenery was most magnificent, something new to meet the eye, splendid residences – among them that of Washington Irving. The eye never seems to tire. High hills covered with trees, high rocky bluffs – highly cultivated farms – At 10 minutes to 11 passed West Point, the great military Academy of the U.S. The scenery was wild and picturesque. The next stopping place was Newburg a very large town. The next stopping place was Poughkeepsie said to be very nice clean village also at Hudson & Cat — got into Albany 1/2 past 6 went to the Stanwix Hall – walked out after supper. State Hall. City Hall the Aquaduct public squares Theatre-
May 25th Left Albany at 7 o’clock took diner at Syracuse at 1.
Changed cars at Rochester at 20 minutes past 4 for Niagara Falls got into Niagara falls at 8 o’clock went to the American house for supper and lodging.
26th Got up at 1/2 past 4 took a outside found a man that took us to Goat Island. Where we had a side view of the American and Horseshoe falls. Went back to the hotel where the Landlord furnished us with a team to ride that took us over the Suspension Bridge to the Canada side and far enough to have a full view of the American & Horseshoe falls which was splendid then went to the Whirlpool – got back in time to take a hasty breakfast and took the 1/2 before 9 train for Buffalo. Changed cars for Cleveland then changed again for Toledo. Got there a little before 10 in the evening – there changed cars again for Chicago, was detained on the road for 2 hours before breaking down, did not get into Chicago until 9 o’clock was due at 7. We had to wait in Chicago until 1/2 past 4 in the afternoon was glad when the cars started, arrived at Batavia at 1/2 past 7. Hired a man to carry us to Blackberry, got to the Father Boyce’s a little past 10, found mother up, very glad indeed to see us. Father had retired but soon got up, had a fire and a nice supper. Sat up until nearly 12 o’clock.”
Oliver Selam Boyce and Mary Jane Frost had two daughters:
- Mary B. Boyce was born on 21 Nov 1860 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. When she was fourteen months old, she was stricken with polio and was paralyzed on the right side of her body. Her right hand was practically useless and she was lame. She died on 21 May 1911 at Aurora Township, Kane, Illinois at age 50.
- Gertrude Lovin Boyce was born on 23 May 1865 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She married Guy Allison Phillips on 01 Oct 1888 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois. She died on 13 Mar 1957 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois at age 91.
The little family initially lived in Roxbury near Mary Jane’s mother and four siblings, George, a baker; Thomas, a cabinet maker; Charles, a carriage trimmer; and Sarah, who was married to Sam Maxfield. They remained in Roxbury during the Civil War.
Mary Jane’s mother passed away on 13 Jul 1866. In 1868, Lady and Selam left the city and moved across the country to live in Illinois near where his parents and siblings had settled. On 1 Mar 1869, they moved to a farm of 160 acres plus 17 acres woodland located near Batavia, Illinois. Life certainly changed for these city dwellers. Returning to the ledger, we can see that they had major expenses to set up a life of farming. Along with the normal expenses for things like lard, cloves, envelopes, sugar and coffee, they had to pay for repairs on wagon, shoe’g horses, garden seeds, machine oil and a reaper and mower.
Their shopping patterns changed too. In Roxbury, they could shop every day. In Illinois, the trips were far less frequent. Mary Jane’s daughter, Gertrude, wrote in her memoir:
We lived six miles from Batavia, nine from Aurora. Trips always made in a lumber wagon the only riding vehicle ever owned. Mother always returned with a headache. Wheat and oats were taken to Batavia Mill furnishing flour, corn meal and chicken feed. We were poor but comfortable. Economy, the watch word never extravagance. Butter packed in firkins, poultry dressed for the Aurora market, a few things shipt to Boston. In her acctbook can be found price for each article bot and other expenses. Also in the back leaves are summed her credits and debits and balanced.
Sadly, Selam contracted tuberculous, then called consumption. He died 22 January 1878 at age 51, leaving Mary Jane a widow with two daughters. Shortly after Selam’s death, Mary Jane, Mary, and Gertrude moved into the town of Aurora. Gertrude wrote about the house they rented in Aurora:
Our rooms were medium size, pleasant and comfortable: parlor, kitchen, bedroom and closet, a make shift summer kitchen three chambers and cellar. Her new furnishings are listed in her Book, 1878 year.
After seven years in Aurora, Mary Jane moved to Montgomery, Illinois.
On 22 December 1905, Lady left her home in Aurora and went to live with her daughter, Gertrude. She made an entry in her ledger.
Mary Jane Frost Boyce died on 01 Jul 1915 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois, a few months after celebrating her 90th birthday. She is buried with her husband and daughter, Mary, at the Sugar Grove Cemetery.
Where is she in the tree?